Competition Chief Involved In Managed Health Care Agenda – 8 November 2000

The National Competition Council (NCC) head, Mr Graeme Samuel, should stay out of plans to introduce managed health care into Australia, the Australian Doctors’ Fund said today. Mr Samuel has been named as an advisory board member of the Institute of Public Affairs’ (IPA) Health Care Reform Unit, which, amongst other things, will argue for the introduction of managed care into Australia. The IPA’s health unit is seeking to raise funding of $275,000 over three years. A proposal from the unit reveals it “considers managed care to be one of the most crucial ingredients to the successful reform of the Health Care System” and that “managed care offers scope for vast economies”. Over the next three years it will look at:

  • trends and problems in managed care in the USA, UK, Canada and Asia;
  • the potential for managed care in Australia; and
  • models for managed care in Australia.

“Managed care was established in America to control health care costs by forcing most Americans into health plans, owned by large corporations, which vastly restricted their choice of doctor and treatment,” said ADF executive director, Mr Stephen Milgate.

“The NCC tells us that competition is about consumer choice, but lack of choice of doctor, of hospital and of treatments is one of the most complained about aspects of managed care in America.

“The IPA says the Australian version of managed care will be nothing like the American system but, however you dress it up, managed care cannot achieve ‘vast economies’ by doing anything other than rationing care and restricting patient choice.

“The public assumes, and expects, objectivity from the NCC and its chairman. “It is therefore totally inappropriate for a supposedly independent organisation, which uses government funds to advise on the implementation of competition policy, to be closely allied with an agenda to introduce the discredited managed care system into Australia,” said Mr Milgate.

Chairman of the ADF, Dr Bruce Shepherd said that the IPA’s move into managed care was yet another example of policy makers repeating the mistakes of countries like America and the UK.” They should be avoiding the catastrophes of other countries, not looking to them for inspiration,” said Dr Shepherd.